Holocaust-denying bishop refuses to recant allegations

7th February 2009, Comments 0 comments

The British-born bishop denied the existence of the gas chambers in an interview with Swedish television two days before the pope lifted his excommunication last month.

Berlin -- A bishop under fire for denying the Holocaust wants to examine the historical evidence before any possible renunciation of his belief that not a single Jew died in Nazi gas chambers, a report said.

"If I find proof I would rectify (earlier statements) ... But all that will take time," Bishop Richard Williamson was quoted as saying by the German weekly magazine Der Spiegel.

The British-born bishop denied the existence of the gas chambers in an interview with Swedish television two days before the pope lifted his excommunication last month.

"I believe there were no gas chambers ... I think that 200,000 to 300,000 Jews perished in Nazi concentration camps but none of them by gas chambers," Williamson said. "There was not one Jew killed by the gas chambers. It was all lies, lies, lies!"

Meanwhile, the bishop of Innsbruck in western Austria, Manfred Scheuer, said that the Vatican should learn some lessons from the episode, which has provoked a storm of criticism.

"The Pope's explanations (this week) were more than necessary and I welcome them,” Austria's Tiroler Zeitung daily on Saturday quoted him as saying. “But we must now analyze the mistakes that have been made. On questions as important as the lifting of an excommunication, the Episcopal conferences should be consulted," he said, referring to official assemblies of bishops in different regions.

On Wednesday the Vatican said the 67-year-old bishop should "unequivocally" distance himself from his statements.

It also said that Williamson's remarks denying that the Nazis used gas chambers to eliminate millions of European Jews in World War II were not known to Pope Benedict XIV when he decided to lift the excommunication of four renegade bishops, including Williamson, last month.

Pope to visit Germany

Amid the controversy surrounding Williamson, the head of the German Bishops' Conference announced Friday that Pope Benedict XVI may pay an official visit to his native Germany next year for the 20th anniversary of the country's reunification.

"I think that the Holy Father will be in Germany next year for an official visit in Berlin and, I hope, to visit us in Freiburg," Freiburg Archbishop Robert Zollitsch, who heads the bishops' conference, told ZDF television, according to extracts of an interview released Friday.

"By then, I think that everything will have calmed down so that we can welcome him with enthusiasm and joy," Zollitsch said in the interview to be broadcast Sunday.

It would be Benedict's third visit to Germany since he became pope in 2005.

AFP/Expatica

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